Grade 11 wrestler Arad Ahangi is looking strong going into nationals, as the North Vancouver student dominated his weight category this year at the provincial level.
Carson Graham Secondary’s Ahangi notched technical superiority wins – a difference of 10 points or more – against all four of his opponents in the 57 kg weight class at the 2023 BC High School Wrestling Championships, which was held at the Pacific Coliseum February 24-26.
The two-day tournament saw participation from 119 schools and 465 athletes. The North Shore was well-represented, with a total of 10 top-six finishes.
For boys that includes Ahangi, Ecole Argyle Secondary’s Angelo Malenica (third place at 78 kg), as well as Justin Rip (sixth at 41 kg) and Jonah Rickard (sixth at 51 kg) of Collingwood, and Hudson Baker (sixth at 60 kg) of St. Thomas Aquinas.
The top local girls were Ecole Sentinel Secondary’s Annika Basco (second at 64 kg), West Vancouver Secondary School’s Rayne Tafreshi (third at 75 kg), Jocelyn Howell (third at 51 kg) and Leontin Schulz (third at 90 kg) of Windsor Secondary, and Aya Habbouchi (fifth at 54 kg) of Carson.
With exactly one month in between, seven of these top wrestlers will head to the Canadian Wrestling Championships in Vancouver March 24-24. Those are Ahangi, Malencia, Baker, Basco, Tafreshi, Howell and Schulz.
Returning champ Ahangi has 'all the tools'
At the national level, Ahangi is shaping up to be a particularly strong contender this year, according to Ian McDonald, assistant coach for North Shore Secondary Schools Athletic Association.
What makes him so good on the mat?
“He’s the first one in the training room, last one out,” McDonald said, adding that Ahangi is also a very intelligent student who’s on the honour roll.
“He’s got all the tools,” the coach continued. “But it’s his approach to sports, wrestling: He’s all in whatever he does. It’s a refreshing contrast, perhaps to what you see elsewhere.”
McDonald, a retired Carson teacher and former NSSSAA wrestling chair for 30 years, wants to have more visibility on wrestling in general, calling it “the great underground sport.”
He compares a relatively quiet scene in Canada to the 10,000 or more spectators that show up to state-level wrestling championships in the U.S.
“We would like to have a permanent site like the Pacific Coliseum, and then we have to market the heck out of it and get people out to watch,” McDonald said.